The structure of anxiety symptoms among preschoolers

Susan H. Spence*, Ronald Rapee, Casey McDonald, Michelle Ingram

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    230 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study examined whether anxiety symptoms in preschoolers reflect subtypes of anxiety consistent with current diagnostic classification systems, or should be better regarded as representing a single dimension. Parents of a large community sample of preschoolers aged 2.5 to 6.5 years rated the frequency with which their children experienced a wide range of anxiety problems. Exploratory factor analysis indicated four or five factors and it was unclear whether separation anxiety and generalized anxiety represented discrete factors. Results of confirmatory factor analyses indicated a superior fit for a five-correlated-factor model, reflecting areas of social phobia, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and fears of physical injury, broadly consistent with DSM-IV diagnostic categories. A high level of covariation was found between factors, which could be explained by a single, higher order model, in which first order factors of anxiety subtypes loaded upon a factor of anxiety in general. No significant differences were found in prevalence of anxiety symptoms across genders. Symptoms of PTSD in this sample were rare.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1293-1316
    Number of pages24
    JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
    Volume39
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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